Imagine launching a start-up that is touted as a pioneering “social operating system” a key player in the burgeoning area of “contextual computing” and even a “digital butler.” Let’s go even further, and imagine the burden of having to live up to the goal of “organizing the world” and most intriguing of all, building “a master contacts database for pretty much the entire world?” Well, if you can in fact imagine living up to expectations like this, you’ll probably want to apply for a job at a company called Humin.
On a more practical level, Humin (at least for now) is an app that grabs your contact list, calendar entries and social networks to build a master list. It then automatically contacts everyone on the list and asks them to confirm their details and provide additional information. Once all these data are confirmed and unduplicated, you get a contact list that can be searched by location, by connections (who knows who) and a lot of other ways that go far beyond the typical address book.
To live up to its contextual computing hype, Humin wants to move into push mode. Fly into Cincinnati, for example, and it will present you with a list of your contacts there. Humin will of course get smarter as it begins to find deeper meaning in both the data itself and how you use it. Privacy concerns? Not to worry. Humin hangs onto only the minimum amount of data needed to do its magic – all the most valuable data stays right on your phone.
Those of you who are students of data may see shocking similarities between to an earlier service called Plaxo. In its original incarnation, Plaxo grabbed your address book and would periodically query everyone in it via automated emails to confirm that their details were current. Even more cool, if you updated your own information, Plaxo pushed it out to all your contacts automatically. It was the original globally synchronized contact list. Ultimately, Plaxo went astray, jumping on the social media bandwagon in a failed attempt to challenge Facebook.
The lesson of Humin (beyond possible confirmation that all great data publishing ideas are derivative), is that while Humin may be loosely based on the Plaxo concept, it is moving aggressively to surround data with tools. Humin isn’t just organizing and tidying a giant pile of data and then asking the user to find value in it – it is innovating in multiple ways to do that thinking for the user, and to deliver the right data in the right format at the right time to offer maximum value. We at InfoCommerce Group call it “data that does stuff.” Surround good data with good tools, and you, too, can become master of the data publishing universe.